Is FIFA the biggest franchise in gaming? I donít have time to do the maths but it has to be up there. On top of the annual release we are given separate games for the likes of the World Cup and European Championships, mobile games, and even Facebook and browser based versions.
By now you would have expected the lads at EA Sports to have pretty much nailed the beautiful game and if review scores for FIFA 10
were anything to go by they pretty much did. So, whatís left, what can make FIFA
better or so much better itís worth shelling out another £40 for?
If the FIFA 11
marketing machine is anything to go by this year is about Personality Plus, Be a Goal Keeper and a fresh take on Manager Mode.
Personality Plus is one the FIFA 11
enhancements that doesnít shout about itself from the rooftops. Instead it adds another layer realism that at first sight seems slight. However, over time with it, the idea of going back to a FIFA
where players just have normal personalities seems stone-aged.
The Personality Plus system gives a number of the better known players extra traits: Rio Ferdinand is extra special in the air but also more likely to get injured while Rooney is referred to as an Ďengine roomí player, hustling and running all over the place. John Terry even ran off with my girlfriend while my back was turned!
Personality Plus also comes in useful in Career Mode, enabling you to search the transfer market for players who are expert crossers of the ball or are defensive rocks. More of Career Mode in a bit.
Being a Goalie Can be Dull
'Be a Goal Keeper' is much more dramatic addition. For starters it now means FIFA 11
can host 22 players online simultaneously. It might only be two more than last year, but a 100 per cent player controlled game of 11-a-side is pretty cool.
Also, despite my initial reservations, controlling a goalie is pretty easy. The left stick moves him around the pitch while the right stick controls dives. Y makes him jump high and X means that he goes low to feet. Compared to the number of controls for outfield players itís quite impressive that itís so easy.
However, being the goalie is pretty dull. I played a number of games where I had only a couple of saves to make in the first half. You can move the camera up the pitch when the action is away from you and suggest team-mates pass or shoot but it doesnít compare to being an outfielder.
Why Kill Manager Mode?
When EA announced they were removing Manager Mode my heart dropped. For all its faults Manager Mode is where I spent most my time in previous FIFAs
. When EA came back and said they were re-launching it and pretty much starting from scratch I hoped they werenít writing cheques their probably very happy banks couldnít cash.
Iím happy to report that this is by far the best Career Mode yet. Despite EAís boasting there are few massive changes, the biggest being the interface and graphical overhaul of the hub. It is, in fact, the little amendments that add together and make it such a joy.
For starters the transfer system has improved making buying players far easier and more realistic to manage. What annoyed me in FIFA 10
was that there was little point in building a super squad as players rarely got injured and you could use the same starting 11 for most the season.
In FIFA 11
players finally get realistic injuries. Break a leg and youíre out for months, not days. Unfortunately injuries are still only picked up in matches so there are no training ground bumps or players crashing sports cars when they should be tucked up in bed. Football Manager
has been doing this for years, why hasnít FIFA
Brown Paper Bags
Finally, your starting budget, transfers and tickets are not your only cash injections. Do well enough and your board will reward you. Unless you're Arsenal, eh Arsenal fans?
An example of a minor improvement that made me smile is the stats home, which enables you to check standings across the world, not just in your own league. Play in the UK and the stats come from Talk Sport; manage in Italy and itís La Stampa
. Not a massive addition, but a nice touch nonetheless.
Another minor but important addition is that In matches we now get results coming through from other games in play. Fun during the opening of the season, vital at the end of the campaign!